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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The impact of cultural orientation on the perceived value of IT mediated customer service in an e-business context Schmidt, Donald

Abstract

Electronic commerce (e-commerce) has not only opened up new and lucrative markets globally, it has generated novel business models and a new birthplace for innovation in customer service. Historically customers have been won or lost at times based not on products themselves but rather on the perceived value of ancillary services that are provided before, during, and after the actual product purchase. Because, in the case of E-commerce, these services are provided without direct human intervention, e-commerce websites designers have a unique opportunity to contribute to the success of their organization by providing services (usually information related), that automate the functions for attending to potential customers' needs during the E-commerce purchase process, like providing product information or handling a credit card transaction. Cenfetelli, Benbasat, & AI-Natour (2005) have called these functions 'Information Technology Mediated Customer Services or ITMCS. Because the literature supports the position that providing services has a high social component even when conducted via IT, there is reason to expect culture to influence the users' appreciation of the value of these automated services. The current study found some evidence that Internet users distinguish differences in the cultural relevance of the various kinds of website service offerings in a predictable and measurable way. The Internet users reported preferences for functions or features in a pattern that related to their cultural orientation. The conclusion from this research is that further research might capture the kinds of findings that website designers could use to make 'either/or' decisions about which customer service functions to provide in their website to best appeal to the key cultural traits of their target market audiences.

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